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Bills' big first-round jump enhances pursuit of franchise QB

Suddenly, the drafting distance between the Buffalo Bills and one of the presumptive top quarterbacks in this year's college crop is more like a leisurely stroll than a grueling hike.

Suddenly, the Bills are much closer to finally giving the spot they've too long treated as a virtual afterthought the attention it deserves.

Their second major trade in four days took care of that.

Now, with the 12th and 22nd overall picks, the Bills are in far better position to get to where they need to be for a crack at USC's Sam Darnold, UCLA's Josh Rosen, Wyoming's Josh Allen or Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield. Assuming, of course, they have one of them in their sights.

That's the major takeaway from Monday's deal that sent offensive tackle Cordy Glenn and the Bills' own first-round choice, No. 21, to the Cincinnati Bengals for the 12th pick.

For the Bills, this is a true game-changer.

Before the trade, they were staring at the likelihood of needing to package the 21st and 22nd picks with a first-rounder in 2019 to move into the top five or 10, depending on where they have one of the so-called Big Four targeted. Or they were in a position of settling for another quarterback, such as Louisville's Lamar Jackson or Oklahoma State's Mason Rudolph, falling to them at 21 or 22 or, perhaps, waiting until the second round ... if someone they wanted were still on the board.

Now, the Bills could conceivably sit at No. 12 and have a quarterback they covet get pushed down to them. Or – and this seems more likely – they could put together a package that would include No. 22 but wouldn't require next year's No. 1 to allow for another upward move.

Bills make another big trade, shipping LT Cordy Glenn to Bengals

Either way, the Bills have sent a clear message they are determined to, once and for all, to take the necessary steps to try to get the quarterback position right while keeping enough assets to achieve the sustainable success coach Sean McDermott and General Manager Brandon Beane consider the major component of their "process."

Free agency begins Wednesday, and the Bills are expected to do quarterback shopping in order to add the veteran Beane promised would be on the roster for the 2018 season. With second-year man Nathan Peterman the only QB on the roster after last Friday's trade that sent Tyrod Taylor to the Cleveland Browns, the Bills have to find someone who can keep the seat at the position warm until the rookie set to join the team in April is ready to play.

It's hard to picture Darnold, Rosen, Allen or Mayfield being ready to play this year, even though there will be the inevitable clamoring to push him into the lineup similar to the way Peterman supplanted Taylor for last season's game against the Los Angeles Chargers. The disaster that was Peterman's historically bad first half should serve as a valuable lesson to McDermott and Beane.

However, one major difference this year is that McDermott or Beane or both will have had a key role in choosing all of the quarterbacks on the roster. That attachment will matter in how decisions at the position are made.

Monday's trade, which won't become official until the league's business calendar begins at 4 p.m. Wednesday, cost the Bills a quality left tackle, a spot that carries a good deal of value of its own. The catch is that Glenn hasn't been healthy of late, dealing with chronic ankle and foot issues.

Updating the Bills' draft picks following the Cordy Glenn trade

Having rookie Dion Dawkins fill in as capably as he did for Glenn at left tackle last season was a clear factor in giving the Bills the confidence they could part ways with him with minimal fallout. The Bills were going to need to address offensive tackle anyway, in free agency or the draft or both, and now have greater incentive to pursue candidates to challenge starter Jordan Mills on the right side and/or enhance depth behind both tackles.

Simply because the Big Four is designated as such doesn't guarantee a thing for the Bills, of course. But the effort to get in much closer range of one of them speaks volumes about the long-term thinking of the organization.

The Bills hadn't displayed that sort of sound, big-picture vision in a long time. They used to subscribe to the thinking that the only good moves were of the splashy variety, regardless of the future problems caused by giving up premium picks and devouring cap space.

What the Bills have done in the last four days gives them the chance to make a splash, for certain, but without the residual damage to the team's long-term well being that the previous ones caused.

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